Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Forthcoming: Europe's Ukraine?

There is still more to be said about the Ivory Coast crisis and, notably, the extreme partiality displayed in connection with it by the UN Secretariat. Seemingly taking instructions from French authorities, the latter has all but ignored the civilian deaths caused by the French military and instead warned the Ivorian government about its supposed use of “hate media” in “inciting violent acts”. I will try to return to this issue sometime next week.

In the meanwhile, though, I want to turn to Ukraine. As far as I can tell, the new media – including the blogosphere – has largely followed the lead of the old in depicting the current post-election crisis in starkly Manichean terms as essentially pitting corrupt authoritarian Russian toadies (Yanukovich and Kuchma) against freedom-loving democratic westernizers (Yushchenko and Co.): or, as the NYTimes, with its inimitable gift for simplification, has put it, of Vladimir Putin versus “the West”. Starting tomorrow, I will post material suggesting that matters are far more complicated and, more specifically, that the external supports for the respective Ukrainian parties to the conflict are not in fact Russia and “the West” as such, but rather Russia and the EU. Indeed, within the EU it has seemingly been one country or rather one national ruling party that has been particularly active in supporting Victor Yushchenko’s “Our Ukraine” opposition: namely, the Social Democrats of German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

Until then, concerning the much publicized – but for the most part, conspicuously unspecific – charges of electoral fraud in the Ukrainian elections, I recommend having a look at this report filed by election observers from the British Helsinki Human Rights Group.